Libyan Bishop Criticizes NATO Strikes
Smoke rises after NATO airstrikes in Tripoli, Libya, 7 June. Bishop Giovanni Martinelli of Tripoli has been an outspoken critic of the NATO bombing campaign against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafis forces, which have been battling to put down a widespre ad rebellion since late February. (Photo: CNS/Stringer via Reuters)
09 Jun 2011 by Sarah Delaney
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The top church official
in Libya expressed fear that the protracted conflict there
would generate fighting among factions and tribes, but
said he believed a negotiated solution was still possible,
the Vaticans missionary news agency reported.
Bishop Giovanni Martinelli of Tripoli, Libya, also
told the Fides news agency June 8 that whoever thinks
they can resolve everything with bombs is mistaken.
Bishop Martinelli has been an outspoken critic of
the NATO bombing campaign against Libyan leader
Moammar Gadhafis forces, which have been battling to
put down a widespread rebellion since late February.
Intense NATO bombing made for a terrible day
June 7, the bishop said. The government said at least 60
missiles hit Tripoli, killing more than 30 people that day.
The political situation is not clear, Bishop
Martinelli told Fides. We are waiting for developments
and progress in dialogue and peace. I still believe in
The bishop said what he fears most is conflict
between the factions of the Libyan people; if they start to
battle one another, it will be terrible. Bishop Martinelli has said repeatedly that the airstrikes were causing many civilian deaths and extreme hardship for local people.
Pope Benedict XVI has appealed for a cease-fire
and a halt to the bombing in order to seek a diplomatic
Meanwhile, the Italian newspaper Liberal, quoting
unnamed Italian and Russian diplomatic sources, reported
that Gadhafi was hiding in the bishops residence in
Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the
Vatican press office, said he had not heard the report; the
Italian Foreign Ministry said it had no information.
When contacted by journalists June 8, Bishop
Martinelli denied the claims, saying the reports that
Gadhafi could be hiding in his residence were unfounded, almost unthinkable.
If he wanted to come to church, as a Franciscan, I
would welcome him, the bishop said.
But I have had absolutely no contact recently
with Gadhafi or with Libyan authorities, he said. Besides, the church would have risked being a target of NATO
bombing if Gadhafi had been housed there, he added.
There have been conflicting reports about
Gadhafis whereabouts. Italian newspapers reported that
he appeared on Libyan television following the latest
NATO bombardment saying, Dead or alive, I will stay in
Tripoli, and we are stronger than your missiles.
Tags: Arab Spring Libya North Africa Moammar Gadhafi